Prettiest Villages in the Cotswolds

Prettiest Villages in the Cotswolds

Surrounded by bucolic countryside and topped with thatched crowns, the timeless villages of the Cotswolds are the picture of quintessential English loveliness. Many dating back hundreds of years, their narrow streets, manicured hedgerows and historic buildings exude a nostalgic charm that enraptures all generations. Often enveloped in history and decorated with flowering creepers that enhance their already beautiful aesthetics, they are a dream for photographers, artists, history-lovers and explorers alike. But which places win the title of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds?

To help you on your way, we’ve put together a guide to the most eye-catching villages in the Cotswolds National Landscape, famed for their show-stopping facades and idyllic settings.

Asthall, Oxfordshire

A view of the Maytime Inn in the picturesque village of Asthall in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds  

First up on our list of the prettiest villages in the Cotswold is Asthall, home to a dainty collection of yellow-stone cottages scattered along the River Windrush in Oxfordshire. Despite its modest size, Asthall’s streets contain a huge amount of history, with roots dating back to the Roman times when the village linked Cirencester with St Albans. A great way to explore the area on foot, there’s a lovely 5-mile walk from Asthall to Swinbrook that takes you past the village’s 12th Century church and Asthall Manor where the early 20th Century socialites, the Mitford sisters, spent many formative years. Incidentally, four of the six Mitford sisters are also buried in the church in neighbouring Swinbrook. Wander past the swans and willows of the river and enjoy the sights, before returning for a bite to eat at The Maytime Inn in Asthall village for hearty replenishment.

Bibury, Gloucestershire

 A row of traditional cottages in Bibury in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds

Only a few miles from the Cotswolds’ capital of Cirencester, Bibury village is easily one of the most captivating in the UK. Described by the 19th Century English designer and poet William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England”, it stuns onlookers with its picture-postcard aesthetics that seem to stand frozen in time. Its most iconic feature, Arlington Row, is a real highlight of any holiday in the Cotswolds and is so famous that it has even been depicted on the inside cover of all UK passports. Located on Awkward Hill, this architectural conservation area dates from the 14th Century and is made up of old wool stores that were converted into weavers’ cottages in the 1600s. Standing in charming formation, these historic cottages are probably one of the most well-known scenes in the Cotswolds, yet despite their fame, remain a breath-taking sight no matter how many times you’ve seen them.

Blockley, Gloucestershire

Yellow-stone cottages and church in the village of Blockley in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds

Sandwiched between many of the Cotswolds most famous gems (including Moreton-in-Marsh, Chipping Campden, Dover’s Hill and Sezincote House) is the village of Blockley. As the main centre of the area’s silk industry in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the village’s brook was once harnessed by six silk mills using the fast-flowing water to provide work for hundreds of locals and power their machinery. These days, little of Blockley’s industrial heyday remains and instead the village takes up quiet residence betwixt a patchwork of fields. Amongst its highlights is its Norman church, which was regularly used as the backdrop for the TV series Father Brown. Excitingly for cheese fans, it’s also only 4 miles from the Cotswold Cheese Co. deli in the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, where savoury-toothed gourmands can sample over 120 varieties of artisan cheeses.

Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

A view over the river in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, with pretty trees in flower and traditional Cotswolds cottages

Known as the Venice of the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is a beautiful village on the River Windrush in Gloucestershire. A small village with lots going on, this riverside idyll is home to a large array of family-friendly attractions, including the famous Model Village (boasting the country’s only Grade II listed model village), Cotswold Motoring Museum and Birdland Park & Gardens. It’s also very close to Bourton House which is known for having one of the best summer gardens in the UK. Encompassed by manicured gardens tiered with beautiful terraces, decorated with herbaceous borders and lined with topiary walks, Bourton House is a real haven for garden-lovers to explore, full of intriguing sights and scents. Interestingly, Bourton-on-the-Water is also known for the unusual bragging rights of hosting a 100-year-old football game on the banks of its meandering river.

Broadway, Worcestershire 

Snow over the main street and attractive historic buildings of Broadway in the Worcestershire Cotswolds

One of the most instantly-recognisable villages in the Cotswolds, Broadway on the Worcestershire and Gloucestershire border is a true delight. Often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’, it is characterised by rows of honey-coloured, wisteria-clad buildings and cottages and a broad high street that runs through the middle of the village. One of the largest villages in the Cotswolds, it also benefits from a wide array of great attractions, including Broadway Museum and Art Gallery and Gordon Russell Design Museum, and eateries, including The Lygon Arms, Tisanes Tearooms, and Hook at the Fish, the latter of which is run by the Michelin star chef Martin Burge. For the best trip to Broadway, a wander along the village’s picturesque thoroughfare is a must, popping in and out of the quaint shops, antique stores and fantastic delis. Later, head over to Broadway Tower to see the landscapes from the top of one of England’s most spectacular viewpoints – with panoramas extending over 16 counties across a 60-mile radius.

Castle Combe, Wiltshire

 Historic houses and buildings with timber frames and Cotswolds stone in the village of Castle Combe in the Wiltshire Cotswolds

Castle Combe has achieved a far-reaching reputation as one of the prettiest places in the UK. And, tracing its picturesque streets, it’s really not hard to see why. With no new houses having been built here since the 17th Century, its authentic and utterly photogenic architecture has seen it used as the backdrop for many period films and TV productions, including the BBC’s Downton Abbey and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. Needless to say, a trip to this sleepy Wiltshire village is a must, if simply to admire its vintage looks and soak up its unique atmosphere. See the 15th Century clock in the Grade I listed St Andrew’s Church (one of the oldest working clocks in Britain), visit its Medieval market cross and take a photo from its Grade II listed bridge for an iconic capture of this fairy-tale village.

Kingham, Oxfordshire

An attractive village with trees, surrounded by the pretty cottages of the village of Kingham in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds

A quintessential Cotswolds village with a cosmopolitan edge, Kingham in Oxfordshire is a real haven with origins dating back to Roman times. Only a short distance from the country’s glittering capital of London, this peaceful village was voted as Country Life’s favourite village and waits on cue with historic honey-hued cottages draped with flowers – a world away from the rush of the city. Especially popular for foodies, Kingham is particularly enticing for its gastronomical temptations, be it the village’s cosy pubs, world-class eateries, famous farm shops (including the ever popular Daylesford Farm) or more. The Kingham Plough on the Green and The Wild Rabbit on Church Street are two year-round favourites that await with delicious seasonal menus of local delicacies. Meanwhile, the annual Big Feastival music and food festival is held at Blur bassist Alex James’ local farm each August.

Oddington, Gloucestershire

Beautiful Cotswolds countryside shrouded in mist

The twin villages of Lower and Upper Oddington near Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire are two little-known idylls in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Off the beaten track, this winsome duo enjoys a slice of pastoral tranquillity on the edge of the Evenlode Valley. A wonderful place for scenic walks in the countryside, they offer access to a number of paths and trails weaving through the surrounding landscapes and past local highlights, such as the 12th Century St Nicholas Church. Found in Lower Oddington, St Nicholas Church is somewhat unassuming from the outside, yet inside displays an incredible array of notable historic artworks. These include a Medieval wall painting (one of the largest ‘Doom’ paintings in the UK), a 13th or 14th Century depiction of the Virgin Mary, and an 18th Century royal coat of arms for William IV.

The Slaughters, Gloucestershire

The Old Mill and Museum by the river in the village of Lower Slaughter in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds

Another set of twinned villages in the Cotswolds, Lower and Upper Slaughter offer a double dose of loveliness. Linked by the low-lying River Eye (more of a stream than a river), this photo-worthy pair are interspersed with ancient footbridges and lined with pretty homes built with the Cotswolds’ famous caramel-coloured stone. Spend time exploring the beautiful lowland around Upper and Lower Slaughter (the name “Slaughter” derives from the Old English for “muddy place”) and savour its rolling fields, peaceful meadows, and meandering waterways. 

Snowshill, Gloucestershire

 The front, flower-clad facade of Snowshill Manor in the village of Snowshill in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds

Renowned for its unspoilt beauty, you can expect to find gorgeous visuals that’ll provide endless inspiration for the eye and the lens in Snowshill. Surrounded by the Cotswolds Hills on three sides and set along the Cotswold Way, this gorgeous village in Gloucestershire is loved not only for its lovely limestone cottages, but for its far-reaching views across the Severn Vale. On clear days, it even rewards visitors with views as far as the Broadway Tower, too. Spend time wending your way through the lanes of Snowshill and country trails beyond, before venturing to Snowshill Manor nearby. Looked after by the National Trust, Snowshill Manor once belonged to the English architect Charles Wade and is home to one of the best gardens in the Cotswolds. Offering plenty to see inside and outside, it is a brilliant family-friendly attraction and one that delights all generations of visitors.

Stanton, Gloucestershire

Historic stone and timber-framed houses in the pretty village of Stanton in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds

Stanton village is a real picture of perfection with its Cotswold stone cottages and ancient houses topped with thatched roofs and steeply pitched gables. Having hardly changed in the last 300 years, this village at the foot of the sloping Shenberrow Hill exudes a certain kind of magic that you can only find in the Cotswolds. With little in the way of tourist attractions or shops, its main draws come in the form of its divine scenery and jaw-dropping views of the Vale of Evesham, Malvern Hills and Welsh mountains beyond. Revel in the pretty setting of this Cotswold village before treating yourself to well-deserved refreshment at the 17th Century Mount Inn. Located on the high street in Stanton, this dog-friendly country pub uses local produce to craft a menu of rich, wholesome dishes and light bites, all served with gorgeous views across the valley.

Feeling inspired to discover the beauty of the Cotswolds? Take a look at our luxury Cotswolds cottages here.


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